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  • Writer's pictureRPK

The Impossible Deadline

Updated: Oct 20, 2018

If you work, you probably have a deadline. It doesn't really matter what kind of work you do, someone always expects you to get something done by a certain day and time. As a creative director, deadlines come with the territory.

Most deadlines come up a lot faster than we'd like. Maybe that's why they have the word "dead" in them. That's how they make us feel.

I once had the roughest, tightest deadline in graphic design history.

I was working at an international public relations firm. An in-house account exec rushed into my office.

"I need you to redesign a client's logo," she said.

"Great," I said.

"She needs it now." She wasn't smiling.

"You mean she needs it today? That's a pretty fast turnaround," I said.

"No, she needs it now. Right now. She's on the phone, and wants us to send it to her right now."

Was I on Candid Camera? "But you haven't even given me the assignment yet," I said. "How can I get her a design right now that I haven't even been assigned yet?"

"I don't know, but she says she has to have it right now." Her expression said, "Rick, why are you being so difficult?"

That's when I introduced her to the concept of managing the client's expectations. My company billed hourly. If I miraculously pulled a brand new logo design out of thin air and sent it to her instantly, the amount of time I could bill for that would be … zero minutes. Basically, the client would get a brand new logo for free.

It's important that we all manage our expectations, and give ourselves time to do quality work. The old saying, "You can have two out of three: fast, cheap or good. But you can't have all three," is a standard in the industry.

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